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Shares of food manufacturer The J.M. Smucker Company (SJM - Analyst Report) reached a new 52-week high of $106.00 on Jul 11 following its fourth quarter fiscal 2013 results. The share price has been on the rise since the fourth quarter results on Jun 6, gaining 7.7% in just one month.

The stock closed at $105.93 on Jul 11, recording a healthy return of 19.4% on a year-to-date basis. The company’s long-term estimated EPS growth rate is 8.28%. Average volume of shares traded over the last three months came in at approximately 586K.

Solid Fourth Quarter

Smucker reported better-than-expected fourth quarter fiscal 2013 adjusted earnings of $1.29 per share. The results exceeded the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 12.2% and the prior-year adjusted earnings by 17% on the back of higher operating income, lower taxes and lower share count due to share buybacks.

Though revenues declined due to a decrease in net price realization, the company achieved volume gains in the U.S. Retail Coffee and U.S. Retail Consumer Foods segments, driven by higher priced K-Cups coffee and Dunkin Donut brands.

Smucker’s gross margin improved 240 basis points to 36.1%, driven by lower input costs primarily that of green coffee. Operating margin also increased 100 basis points to 16.8%, despite higher operating expenses.

We are encouraged by the company’s continued focus on its brands through innovations and promotional offerings, strategic acquisitions, improving volumes, and effective utilization of cash through buybacks. We believe the company is well positioned to drive profits in the coming quarters.

With a Zacks Expected Surprise Prediction or ESP (Read: Zacks Earnings ESP: A Better Method) of +1.68% and a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), Smucker is likely to beat earnings in its upcoming quarter, results of which are likely to be announced in August.

Other Stocks to Consider

Other stocks in the food business that are currently doing well and are worth considering include Flower Foods Inc. (FLO - Snapshot Report), B&G Foods Inc. (BGS - Snapshot Report) and Kraft Foods Group Inc (KRFT - Analyst Report). While Flower Foods and B&G Foods carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Kraft Foods holds a Zacks Rank #2.

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